So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Daily Archives: May 27, 2009

Adding new link – Waiternotes

A very well-written and considered blog that combines tales from restaurants with practical information about the profession of waiting tables.

Plus, it has a slick, modern look that works well.

Look for it under “Water Stuff”.

Great “inside baseball” post from “Waiternotes – Inside the restaurant” blog

Servers will sympathize with the issues brought up and guests will get a glimpse of some of the “office politics” that servers must deal with.

New link added – The Raging Server

Added this link not only because he’s a fellow Nashvillian and I can relate to his experiences, but it’s just a funny place to spend some time chuckling over the restaurant wars.

Check it out under “Waiter Stuff” or just click this link:

Cookbook of the day – Sublime Smoke



Sublime Smoke: Bold New Flavors Inspired by the Old Art of Barbecue

by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison

Harvard Common Press

ISBN-10: 1558322922

ISBN-13: 978-1558322929

I’m a bit of a smoking buff. I don’t have one of these:


but one of these:


The top is the famous (to some) Lang 84. The bottom is the famous (to all) Weber 22″ Silver Kettle grill. I also have one of these:


This is an electric Brinkmann Gourmet bullet smoker.

I grew up in Memphis, so hickory smoke runs through my veins. I enjoy smoking (well, I like grilling too, but I’m more intrigued with the intricacies of smoking verses slapping some steaks and dogs on the grill). I enjoy experimenting with smoking techniques, especially since I’m forced to smoke using the size limitations of the Weber. I’m sure I’ll be posting on things that I’ve discovered about smoking later on, but in the meantime, I’ll be recommending some books on the subject over the next few weeks. This is one of my favorites.

The first part of the book is a well-written primer on smoking in general. It discusses the different types of smokers and tools that you need. It gives an overview on what smoking is and isn’t.

I especially like the diversity of recipes. This isn’t a “win a BBQ contest” sort of book. It offers a wide diversity of dishes featuring smoke, some of them quite surprising. From home-smoked kedgeree (a British breakfast hash) to “coq au smoke”, a smoky take on coq au vin, from Thai sirloin salad to cold fish and cucumber salad, you can learn to expand your cooking palate with this book.

If you want to explore the world of smoking, here’s a great forum:

I warn you in advance – there are a lot of strong opinions on the forum, some of which I disagree with. But there’s a lot of great advice and you’ll learn alot as you browse the forum. And if you look closely, you might find my secret to my incredible pork rub, which of course is the best in the known and unknown universe.

Look for this link in my links list.

PS, the top photo of Sublime Smoke is the most current issue. The bottom photograph is the edition that I own. I can’t speak to the differences in editions. My comments are based on the 1996 edition that I own.

Trust pt. 1

Obviously, trust is something that’s important in any business transaction,  human interaction, or relationship.

It’s especially important in the waiter/guest relationship. The guest is entrusting the waiter to provide them a great experience and the waiter is trusting the guest to pay them for their service in the generally accepted way. There’s an implied contract between the two and the best way to assure that both ends are taken care of is by the waiter establishing the trust of the diner.

There are several ways to do this. The one that we will discuss in this installment is the display of an aura of competence. This is done by being quick to answer food and beverage questions and to keep a professional bearing around the table. As I always say, you’ve got to know your menu and bar offerings. You’ve got be able to be proactive in guiding the guest when they need or request help. If you see a guest struggling over the wine list, jump in and start asking questions like, “What kind of wine are you looking for – white or red? Red? Good. Do you like a full-bodied chewy wine or would you like something softer and more approachable? What’s chewy, you ask? You know that sort of sandy feeling you get with some wines? That’s the tannins in the wine and that’s part of chewy. You don’t like that? Well, why don’t you try a good pinot noir. It’s lighter and softer Oh, you don’t like pinots? Would you like something fruity then? We have a nice merlot that’s pretty big but not harsh. It’s kind of bright and zingy”. Good, I’ll bring it right out”. This sort of exchange shows that you know your job. Here’s the thing though – there are some merlots that are done in a style similar to a cabernet, so if you bring one of them, you risk the carefully built image that you have constructed. So you have to know your product and know what you are recommending.

Another way to establish competence is by using culinary terms judiciously. When you talk about the fine brunoise of red pepper that laces the red pepper coulis, you sell yourself as someone who knows their stuff. That sounds better than saying that the chef has added cut up red peppers to the red pepper purée. Most people won’t even ask you what a brunoise is (a very small perfectly cut cube approximately 3mm on a side). However, they will ask you what a coulis is (and hopefully you’ve pronounced it as the chef did – cool-E) and you should have a ready answer tailored to your audience – if it’s a seemingly unsophisticated diner, you can put them at ease by saying, “It’s just a fancy term for a smooth sauce”. If the table is obviously somewhat well versed, you can leave out “a fancy term” and substitute purée for sauce.

Stay tuned for part two on trust.